• Lion in Kruger National Park

Grand Tour of South Africa

It’s easy to see why South Africa is one of our most popular destinations on the African continent. This fascinating country is rich in adventure, history, wildlife and wonderful food - an ideal location if you’re looking for a unique holiday experience that will provide a treasure chest of memories.

Having spent decades organising bespoke tours throughout this part of the world, we’ve collated the very best experiences on offer into our Grand Tour of South Africa. This 15 day odyssey will take you through world-renowned national parks, vineyards and game reserves. Following the magnificent Panorama Route from Johannesburg to Mpumalanga, you’ll dive straight into the heart of the country, stopping to take in the incredible sights of Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon and the region known as God’s Window along the way.

There’s certainly no shortage of scenic landscapes, fascinating safaris and exclusive experiences travelling between vibrant cities such as Durban and Cape Town. The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is also a must-see destination - this tiny nation boasts amazing mountainous landscapes and a proud indigenous culture. 

At Hayes & Jarvis, our team of South Africa Destination Specialists are here to help you craft your ideal tailor-made tour. We’re always on hand to discuss your options and ensure you get the best from your experience. 

 

Duration
15 days

Guide Price

 €3,859  pp
Best time to go
All year
Options
Private or Group basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Leopard in South Africa

Trip highlights

  • Travel the famous Panorama Route, a scenic stretch of road connecting natural landmarks, waterfalls and canyons
  • Spot white rhinos at Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, the oldest game reserve in Africa and jewel of the KwaZulu Natal region
  • Explore the town of Big Bend, named for its spectacular views of the river and surrounding Lubombo Mountains
  • Bask in the glory of the Knysna Heads Lagoon, an area of outstanding natural beauty with a storied maritime history
a man standing in front of a building

Arriving at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will be met and taken directly to the four star Faircity Quartermain Hotel.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Faircity Quatermain Hotel or similar

Enjoy a quick breakfast in Johannesburg before we set off on a morning drive towards Mpumalanga along the famous Panorama Route. This magnificent stretch of road offers one of the world’s most beautiful journeys; offering incredible sights and vantage points along the way. 

Here you’ll have the opportunity to visit Blyde River Canyon and, weather permitting, God’s Window and Mac Mac Falls, before arriving in Mpumalanga by early evening – just in time for dinner at Perry’s Bridge Hollow.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Perry's Bridge Hollow or similar
Elephant in Kruger National Park

Your third day is dedicated to exploring the world-renowned Kruger National Park, a reserve known for its high density of ‘Big 5’ wildlife: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. 

Here you can take an open-top safari through the park, where you’ll have the chance to witness the bountiful wildlife herds that call Kruger home, appreciating the sprawling savannah and scrub landscape along the way. After a full day at the reserve there’s time to relax and unwind at the hotel. Alternatively, you could always take the chance to book yourselves into an extra evening safari tour.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Perry's Bridge Hollow or similar
Ranch scenary

From Mpumalanga you’ll drive over to the fascinating Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland). This small mountainous nation offers beautiful scenery, fascinating cultural experiences and a chance to pick up a few authentic artisanal souvenirs. Stay at the Royal Swazi Spa, a beautiful hotel set against the backdrop of tranquil Ezulwini Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of Heaven’.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Royal Swazi Spa or similar

We continue our Grand Tour of South Africa through the town of Big Bend, which was named after its position on the Great Usuthu River. This region offers spectacular views of natural landmarks and surrounding mountains, particularly as we head into KwaZulu Natal and across the Elephant Coast. There’s also the chance to visit a local Zulu homestead to get a taste of the local culture. You’ll then have time to unwind and settle into Ghost Mountain Inn, which will be your base for the next two nights.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ghost Mountain Inn
a field with a mountain in the background
a group of people in a field with a mountain in the background

After a long scenic drive along the Elephant Coast, you’ll have the morning to relax at your own pace before heading out for an afternoon safari at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. This spectacular park is renowned for its role in saving the endangered white rhino from extinction. 

The KwaZulu Natal region is known by many as the Garden Province, testament to the luscious vegetation and plant life that you’ll find here. There are also strong numbers of black rhino, lion and giraffe in the area, which is a direct impact of the conservation efforts made by Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and other game reserves in the vicinity.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ghost Mountain Inn or similar
a dog in a body of water

We head along the Elephant Coast once more on the way to Durban, although this is no ordinary route. First, you’ll have the chance to explore the wetlands of St. Lucia, South Africa’s inaugural UNESCO World Heritage site. A boat excursion along the estuaries is a must, and offers the chance to view hippo, crocodile and a huge variety of bird species.

After a full day in St. Lucia we drive along the coast to the vibrant city of Durban for an overnight stay at The Benjamin Hotel. Situated on the country’s eastern coastline, Durban boasts an eclectic mix of African, Indian and colonial influences. It’s definitely worth setting your alarm relatively early the next morning so you have plenty of time to discover the city.

Suggested Accommodation

  • The Benjamin or similar
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

This morning you have the chance to eat a good breakfast and explore Durban before catching a plane to the coastal city of Port Elizabeth later in the day. 

The Golden Mile beachfront is perfect for a morning stroll, and is also a popular destination for surfers and sunbathers. We also highly recommend a trip to the nearby uShaka Marine World, a renowned aquarium and theme park that sprawls across 40 acres. Elsewhere in the city, if you like your flowers or gardening then won’t want to miss the indigenous and exotic plant life on offer at Durban Botanical Gardens, which is the city’s oldest public institution.

Having spent your day exploring Durban at leisure, it’s time to head to the airport for your flight to Port Elizabeth. Upon arrival, a car will be waiting to take you straight to your accommodation at the Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth or similar
Tsitsikamma Forest Garden Route

The second half of your South African adventure gets underway in style as we travel along the coastline to Tsitsikamma National Park, a marine reserve like no other. Here you’ll find sloping gorges, tree-laden hillsides, and immaculate coastal bays, not to mention the suspension bridge that spreads across the Storms River. 

From there we carry on towards Plettenberg Bay, where you’ll check into Hunter’s Country House for two nights. This unique accommodation boasts a series of thatched roof cottages set against the backdrop of scenic gardens and lush forest. This house is a perfect place to spend a relaxing night in Plettenberg.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hunter's Country House or similar
an island in the middle of a body of water

Today it’s time to experience the splendour of the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay. This is one of the most beautiful spots you’ll find along the Garden Route in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. Plettenberg is home to the Birds of Eden, the largest free flight bird aviary in the world. The sanctuary is covered with a giant mesh dome and offers a unique opportunity for you to see an incredible array of birdlife. Head back to the hotel for dinner, or you could always book an optional late afternoon boat trip to explore another side of the town.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hunter's Country House or similar

After a quick breakfast in Plettenberg, get back on the road as we head over to the lagoons of Knynsa Head, another must-see destination as we venture along the Garden Route. Knynsa is home to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, and is the perfect place to ramble along a downhill nature trail. There’s plenty of time to relax at the Knynsa Waterfront Complex, before we travel to nearby Oudtshoorn for a guided tour of a working ostrich farm.

You won’t be staying with the birds tonight - first class accommodation is provided at Surval Boutique Olive Estate.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Surval Boutique Olive Estate or similar

Today you get time with another of South Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Enjoy a morning tour of the Cango Caves, which is an otherworldly experience at one of the natural wonders of the world. Here you’ll walk through sprawling cavern systems covered in giant stalagmites and stalactites, and see the odd colony of bats.

For the final leg of your Grand Tour of South Africa, we’ll head across towards the port city of Cape Town, where you’ll check into the Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel for two nights.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Southern Sun Waterfront or similar
Lions Head and Cape Town

Despite being a bustling urban city in its own right, Cape Town offers unique opportunities to connect with the surrounding natural landscapes. The views from Table Mountain are undeniably spectacular, so it’s well worth taking the cable car up to the top of the city’s most famous landmark. There are also a few nature trails and walking routes if you prefer to hike your way up.

A short drive out of the centre leads you along endless beaches and picturesque villages before you reach the viewpoints of Cape Point and Cape Peninsula in the southern section of Table Mountain National Park. We’ll spend a full day exploring the area; giving you ample time to take in the spectacular views, surrounding coastal bays and mountain landscapes. Make sure to keep an eye out for the unique wildlife and birdlife native to this region, including pelagic birds, zebra and chacma baboon.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Southern Sun Waterfront or similar
a cactus in a green field

A few hours outside of Cape Town lie the sprawling valleys and vineyards of the Cape Winelands. As the name suggests, this region is famous for its wine production, though you’ll also stare in wonder at the magnificent landscape formed by the rolling hills and endless vines. 

A trip to the Franschhoek Cellar is the perfect opportunity for you to find out more about the history of wine production in the area. Naturally, you can also enjoy a few glasses of the best bottles before returning back to the city in the late afternoon.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Southern Sun Waterfront or similar
a colorful bird sitting on a branch

This morning, you’ll have time to explore Cape Town at leisure before your South African adventure finally comes to a close later this afternoon. The botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch provide a wonderful experience, where you can take an elevated walk through the treetops and spot exotic birdlife along the way. If you’re intrigued by the political history of South Africa then you may decide to take a quick trip to Robben Island, the site where Nelson Mandela served his 27 year prison sentence,  and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

After 15 unforgettable days, we will drive you to Cape Town International Airport for your journey home.

Included

  • Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 14 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Board basis is Half Board (Breakfast and Lunch/Dinner) in Ghost Mountain Inn, Mkhuze Game Reserve; Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth; Surval Boutique Olive Estate, Oudtshoorn
  • Board basis is Breakfast only in Faircity Quatermain Hotel, Johannesburg; Perry's Bridge Hollow Boutique Hotel, Hazyview; B Royal Swazi Spa, eSwatini; The Benjamin, Durban; Hunter’s Country House, Plettenberg Bay; Southern Sun Waterfront, Cape Town
  • Private, luxury air-conditioned transport and transfers
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fees) for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary

Not included

  • International flights and airfare taxes
  • Domestic flight from Durban to Port Elizabeth
  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
  • Video and professional still camera fees during excursions
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
  • Meals (unless specified)
  • Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)